We are committed to raising awareness of Lyme disease and to supporting those who are affected by what is a complex infection. We have a multidisciplinary expert group dedicated to Lyme disease that is part of the Scottish health protection network.
Last week, the chief medical officer wrote to all NHS Scotland health boards and general practitioner practices to highlight the important role that they play, not only in the early diagnosis and management of Lyme disease cases, but in promoting awareness among their patients of ticks and tick-borne infections.
The Public Petitions Committee has heard evidence from those with lived experience of the chronic debilitating effects of the disease, who said that their illnesses are not even being acknowledged. What can the Scottish Government do for those patients who are bitten by a tick, are infected with Lyme disease and multiple unidentified co-infections and who miss their early treatment window because of lack of recognition and then develop the chronic disease?
My initial answer set out what the Scottish Government is doing. Awareness in order to aid prevention is vital, which is why that will be a focus of the multidisciplinary group. We are making sure that front-line clinicians have the information that they need to diagnose, detect and therefore treat the illness. The letter that the chief medical officer wrote last week was designed to raise that awareness and to ensure that those working across our health service—particularly GPs—have the information and awareness that they need to ensure firstly prevention, but also early diagnosis and access to treatment for those affected.